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Democrats can hold their own in November election

August 26, 2010|By ALLAN POWELL

The conventional wisdom is that it is a foregone conclusion that in this off-year fall election, the Democratic Party will take a shellacking. But there is no necessary inevitability in this oft-repeated election lore.

Elections are human events that can be manipulated in any direction desired by the participants. While there is considerable planning in an election, there is also a great deal of chaos and fortuitous events that can alter outcomes.

In the end, leadership and inspiring all eligible voters to turn out are the two most important factors in success. Democrats have the ability to both lead and inspire the base if they have the will. This is possible because they also have the message that is there for the taking. The message has to do with the performance of Republicans.

Gimmicks are not needed. Fraud and deceit are not needed. Demagogues are not needed. Celebrities are also not needed. All that is needed is for all non-Republicans to point out the most obvious fact known to all. Republicans do not deserve to win. Their record is unacceptable because they have failed to do the minimal demands required of public servants.

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Why should millionaires (probably every senator is a millionaire) be returned to office when they look primarily to the interests of millionaires, by millionaires and for millionaires? It took a massive effort with almost no Republican support to finally give some relief to thousands of unemployed laborers while a huge tax reduction for the very wealthy was being proposed. The Republican Party deplores "welfare" for the workers of America, but are staunch supporters of welfare for the rich.

A look at all of the great reforms brought into law by this president shows that Republicans were relentless in vitiating all regulatory reforms and now are plotting to repeal these reforms before they become effective. This is a matter of public record and can be used to activate the base. There is no law of nature that says that Democrats must lose in midterm elections. A well planned, vitally enthusiastic campaign that reminds the public of the extent of the Republican mauling of all reforms could turn this election into a progressive landslide.

Republican supporters are fond of repeating a tired old mantra ad nauseam that they want to "take our country back." What they really mean is that they want to take the country backward. It is not "their" country - it is the country that is shared by a host of other people who also have interests and needs.

Throughout a large part of the history of progressive thinking, there was a phrase used by these presidents to signify and give focus to their goals for reform. Under Franklin Roosevelt, it was a "New Deal"; for President Truman, it was a "Fair Deal"; for President Kennedy; it was the "New Frontier"; for President Johnson, it was the "Great Society." Since then, there has been no theme to express a vision or to electrify and challenge the nation.

A "New Republic" might be adopted for this purpose. Plato immortalized the term in his now very old classic "The Republic." His version would not be suitable for our purposes, but it suggests a comprehensive view of a good society.

A "New Republic" would be what Benjamin Franklin and his colleagues had in mind at the inception of our present government. At the signing of that document, someone asked Franklin what they had accomplished. He replied, "We have given you a Republic, it is now your task to see how long you can keep it."

In the years since then, we have drifted away from a virtuous republic to a massive distortion of this ideal to an unmanageable "industrial-military complex" actually serving the interests of huge international corporations more than the interests of the members of "The Republic." If this president can present this case to the American people, there is a good chance that he could maintain a solid majority in both houses of Congress.

The core of the message is not only that the Republican Party will not be able to govern, but that the record of the Democratic Party shows their ability to lead.

Allan Powell is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Hagerstown Community College

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